Sale of Canadian military uniforms on internet sparks investigation

Canadian military is examining how clothing and equipment meant for soldiers is turning up on the internet for sale.

The military is investigating how clothing and equipment that's issued only to Canadian soldiers is ending up for sale on the internet.

The sale is also raising concerns about the security of Canadian troops.

John Thompson, president of the MacKenzie Institute in Toronto, said one of the big worries is that someone could pick up a uniform and send it to Afghanistan.

"Someone might represent themselves as a Canadian soldier, being in perfect uniform and gear, until they get close enough to set off a suicide bomb," he said.

Each piece of the uniform is distinct, with its own serial number. And it's not supposed to be worn by anyone other than a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

It's illegal for civilians to own or wear the camouflage CADPAT clothing, and it's illegal for soldiers to sell it.

But a search on the web turns up all the makings of a military uniform: gloves, combat helmets, specialized sniper jackets, and a harness meant for the country's elite commandos, the JTF2. That harness sold online last week for $1,200 US – before it was even issued to the soldiers.

For just a few hundred dollars it's possible to buy a complete CADPAT uniform with name badge and rank insignia, making the person wearing it indistinguishable from a real Canadian soldier.

CBC News asked the Armed Forces about the illegal sale of gear, and it sparked an immediate investigation by military police.

"We'll be looking at all aspects right through and including the supply chain," said Capt. Mark Giles, with the military's National Investigation Service.

The military investigators believe many of the items sold online may have been stolen by soldiers or civilians working in the supply chain. The big worry, however, is who is buying the uniforms and why.

"It could mean that a potential attack is coming with insurgents who are disguising themselves as Canadian soldiers," said Thompson.

The military said the investigation will concentrate in Canada. If necessary, it will look beyond the borders to find out who is stealing, selling and buying the uniforms and gear.